Common mistakes when choosing a Yoga School

Every school is unique and choosing one that fits who you are and what you want out of you practice is important. Choosing a school may seem like a daunting task. Here are some of the most common mistakes when choosing a yoga school.

1: Price shopping instead of instructor shopping

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for! When it comes to education, your teachers experience makes a big difference. The school you choose should be transparent and sharing with you at minimum their lead teacher experience. 

As the founder of the Life of Wellness Institute and lead teacher, I have been practicing yoga for 30 years. My first 200 hour training was when I was 16. It was a gift from my teacher to support me in surviving and thriving after being sexually assaulted. I have completed over 1200 hours in training, and over 5000 hours teaching. I am an ICF certified transformational coach specializing in trauma, depression, anxiety, and stress (29 years). Additionally, I am a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapist (10 years), AromaTherapist (5 years), Thai Massage Therapist (3 years), and Yoga Therapist (3 years).

2. Not knowing if your Yoga School is a certified school with the Yoga Alliance and what that means for you.

The Yoga Alliance® is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. Their mission is to promote and support the integrity and diversity of the teaching of yoga.

In most studios around the world today require registration and membership with the YA. To have this open to you, including travelling to teach all across the world, your training needs to be completed in a YA Registered Yoga School (RYS).

The Life of Wellness Institute is registered with the Yoga Alliance, The Canadian Yoga Alliance,  The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada, and more. Click this link to check out our professional membership page listing all of our affiliations and registrations.

3. Not knowing how much time you are spending with the senior teacher. 

If you haven’t already heard, this year the Yoga Alliance improved the standards for RYS’s (registered yoga schools). Starting Feb of 2022, all Yoga Alliance certified schools will be required to have 150 of your 200 hours taught in person by the senior teacher. This is a BIG change from the 65 hours that was previously expected, and that many schools are still teaching from. In fact, a growing option is doing the entire 200 hours online, with NO face to face teacher time, UGH (Click here to find out more).

At the Life of Wellness Institute, ALL of your time is with me directly. That’s right ALL 195 classroom hours, and 1 additional hour 1:1. (Your remaining hours are in community teaching as part of your practicum). When I founded the school, I did it from my 30 years of teaching experience! Discovery based learning is based on your ability to experience, ask questions, and observe. This is why I opened our school with these standards!

4. The school hasn’t shared their lineage with you, and you don’t know the benefits, or limitations of it. 

You want to know where your teacher trained, so that you know and understand the foundation of what you are being taught, and where it comes from.

It is important that the lineage and beliefs are in alignment with what you are creating! Also, you want to be able to share this going forward as a teacher! So many teachers and school hide this information. Honestly, I don’t understand why, as it matters for your future! 

At the Life of Wellness Institute, we have great gratitude to our teachers, mentors, guides, and influencers’. I want you to know exactly what we are about because it matters to us that you are able to share this with the world! Click here to see our complete lineage.

5. Beware of false claims! Due your due diligence.

All through the world today, there is a shift in morality and integrity that is being led by ego and fear.  This is also a BIG part of what Rod Stryker means when he says “The world doesn’t need more yoga teachers, it needs more people practicing yoga.”  Living a yogic lifestyle comes with many teachings. And there are many translations and perspectives.

It takes something to look past our perspective and see them clearly as they are. Honestly, I actually believe it isn’t possible. You see, our eyes don’t see, our ears don’t listen and then we see what they see. What is actually happening in that our senses send our brain a message, it then filters through what it knows to figure out what we are seeing. 

This doesn’t mean I have given myself a pass, in fact it means that I am actively and daily challenging my views, beliefs, behaviors and most importantly, my integrity. One way I do this, is through the 10 pillars of wisdom from the Yoga Sutras (Click here to read more on Yoga Journal). I am in no way perfect, and I don’t believe that perfection is a goal. At the same time I do believe in integrity. To me this means doing what I say I will do and when I said I would. It means doing what is expected of me. It means authentically cleaning up when I am out of integrity! 

Unfortunately the world is how the world is. I can only be who I am being and be an example of what I want to see in the world. I am saddened by seeing the lack of integrity in the world, and the impact it has. So here are some things you can watch for. 

i. Look for things being trademarked and copyrighted.

Are they actually their original idea? Are they even actually a real trademark or copyright? There is one such school in their history, their page is filled with TM signals next to single words and claims of being the originator. This is a perfect thing to watch for. Words are not even eligible for copyright or trademark.

Even Krishnamacharya, the often called “father of yoga” did not discover Yoga alone. He had an Ayurvedic doctor, he was influenced by his environment, experiences. He had many great teachers. So here is the truth… Yoga is not mine. I did not create it, I have not made it better. What I do have is my own unique way of sharing it with you, because I am unique. Not in a special way, or a guru way. Simply as a result of being a human being, just like you. What I do have is over 30 years experience as a teacher, mentor, coach, guide, student, and as a yogi. I have worked with thousands of students and clients over the years, and all of that time as both the teacher, AND the student. 

ii. Look for claims that they are the “originator”, “designer” or “developer” of Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Thai Yoga Massage, Thai Massage.

Honestly, it is shocking to me how many of these claims are made. They are literally banking on you not checking. Take a peak at the lineage chart I shared in number 4, it is a representation of the history of Yoga. While I am certain it is not complete, it will allow you to see when “new styles” of yoga has arisen AND who their teachers are, and their teacher’s teacher. 

Integrity is not something we are born with! It is a act that is CREATED over and over again. We are wired to take the easy route, the path of least resistance. This easily, and sometimes even subconsciously, gets in the way of living with integrity, seeing and dealing with the impact of our lack of integrity, and restoring our integrity back to our whole and complete self. 

Part of me standing for integrity includes being open to what is happening in the Yoga Community. I do this to protect you, to stand for something different from my experience, and I also do it to be a stand for change. I know I am not alone, the Yoga Alliance has been working hard to make this change in the world as well. Take a moment and look at the Yoga Alliance ethical standards they have recently updated. 

And for those who may be engaging in these behaviors, the best part of being a human being is the opportunity to choose. We get to choose in every breath who we are being. The ancient wisdom of the Yoga Sutras and the 10 pillars of wisdom begin with the following three ways of living.

Ahimsa, reminds us to not harm ourselves or others. Satya, reminds us to be truthful, not just by telling the truth, but by challenging the “truth” that our brain feeds us. Asteya, reminds us to not lay claim to something that is not ours, non-stealing.